A little while ago, I published an article called the “The Top Four Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing“. In that post, I mentioned the Turkish Get-up as one of those four exercises. If you have trained with me, this will come as no surprise but I have a bit of a man crush on the Turkish Get-Up (TGU). As a result, it finds its way into many of my clients training programs. Normally, I would rail against a trainer that allows his or her own preferences/likes to creep into a clients program. It should always be what’s best and appropriate for the client, not what we like. As an example, many fitness coaches and strength coaches still love the barbell back squat. The barbell back squat is an amazing exercise for changing body composition and muscle growth. But it might not be appropriate for everyone. However, the TGU is different. If you will indulge me for a few sentences, I will explain.
First, let me explain a bit the perspective I typically use when it comes to training. I believe these things to be true:
- Exercise should be sustainable. By this, I mean that an exercise program should be simple and repeatable. If you have to dig so deep every time that you workout that it becomes a test of will, then you are participating in a challenge, not a training program. Challenges are fine. Great even. But they aren’t training programs.
- Exercise should be time efficient. Most of us that aren’t college or high school students or pro athletes, have jobs and lives outside of the gym. That said, you must get everything you can out of the time you have available.
- Exercise should be comprehensive. Mobility, strength and conditioning all need attention during a training program. How much of each depends on the goals and circumstances. A shot putter for instance, needs just enough conditioning to walk out to their circle, throw and walk back. Their mobility needs require them to have the flexibility to move through their throwing motions. Strength will be at a premium for this athlete. All of this is different from the needs of a 40-something dad that wants to be fit and healthy to chase his kids around the back yard.
Having said all that, let me circle back to the TGU and the 5 reasons that you should have this exercise in your program.
- This is a lift that if you wanted to, you could do every day. In fact, Pavel Tsatsouline went so far as to write a program and book about doing just that. If you can do it every day, I am pretty sure that by definition, that makes it sustainable.
- Next, take look at the TGU from a time efficiency stand point. It works pretty much every pattern you can think of in some fashion. This means it works pretty much every muscle you have. For the time you put in to your workout, getting that much muscle working means it’s pretty efficient.
- The TGU is great for building and maintaining mobility. First of all, I think anything that get’s you on the ground and teaches you to get up will be a benefit from a mobility perspective. The TGU is also great for shoulder mobility as it takes the shoulder through the overhead range of motion in a unique way from over head pressing movements. There’s also a good bit of hip movement that goes on. Oh yeah, and the unloaded shoulder get’s some love when you learn to plant on it while keeping it from riding up towards your ears. So mobility? Check.
- It’s a great strength builder. Not sure about that? Here’s a test for you. Take a bell roughly a third of your bodyweight (for those of you following along at home, a 140lb woman would use a 45lb bell), lay down on the ground with the bell extended up over your head. Now stand up with it. Now get back down on the floor again. All while keeping the bell arm extended. I’m guessing there was a little bit of strength involved in that right? So strength, check.
- Last but not least, it can be a great exercise for conditioning. While, I generally don’t program more than 1-3 reps with a TGU, try a set of 4-5 with a decent weight and then ask your heart what it thinks about what you just did. Conditioning? Check.
So, with all the boxes that you can check off with the TGU, I think, I can make the argument that it’s something almost everyone has a spot in their program for. If you have never done one, check out the video below and give it a try. My recommendation is to do it in the three stages we teach it in. Have fun and good luck.